Affordable Wireless Solution?

October 12, 2016

Now, I’ve gone through all kinds of gymnastics in getting recordable sound out of the Hohner and that story is covered in detail in a previous post… but there was one more thing that I wanted to play with, and that is a wireless solution, some way that I could connect the Hohner to the mixer and not have a wire hanging down from the accordion to the mixer, and here my one requirement was that it had to be affordable, no, wait… what I actually meant was  for it to be really, really CHEAP!

I think that I found the answer too!

A quick search found me an internet site that would ship products from “somewhere in Asia” (mostly Hong Kong or somewhere nearby), at ridiculously cheap prices and most of the time, shipping was included. Now, we know that quality wireless receivers have all kinds of extra range and options like switching channels, adjustable gain and an incredible build quality, but I wanted CHEAP, and adding range and options meant increasing price.

First, what am I looking for?

Wireless transmitters are expensive, but there are some uber-affordable items out there that do what I want, but are designed for something else.  The trick is to search for “wireless lavaliers”.  While good wireless setups are in the $500 range and up, the one I am looking at is a very basic unit that works in the more distance restricted FM range, like 20-30 feet versus hundreds of feet for the expensive units.

So, what is available at the bottom of this heap, and how much does one have to spend you ask?  Good question!  First, let’s look at the product:

It’s called a Bolun WR-601 wireless lavalier.  And… you are asking… how much does it cost? 

Hang on to your hats.

Delivered to my door the price is $8.75CAD (yes, in Canadian dollars, that’s eight dollars and seventy-five cents!).  This is $6.51US and in either currency is crazy cheap!!

Now you can see the receiver has a 1/4″ jack just ready to plug in to the mixer (or the preamp, depending on the output), which is perfect!  However, there is an adapter needed on the transmitter side.  It has a female mic input that is a mono 6.3mm (earphone) jack and we need an adapter that is a male mono earphone jack to female 1/4″ female jack that the wire for the accordion attaches to.  As luck would have it, I have both of those plugs in the basement waiting for me to take 5 minutes and wire it up!  Cost there… ZERO!

Apparently, these things have been around for years, and one guy has even modded his receiver and dramatically increased range for only a few bucks! In the photography world, I’ve done somethng similar, where I increased the range of some very cheap flash triggers from 30 feet to over 350 feet!).

Now, I know this is really bottom of the barrel quality, and I am not expecting a lot from it (likely it distorts when pushed a little), but little DIY projects like this are fun and easy to work on and if you can make them work, they normally work acceptably well in a home environment.  After all, this is all I am doing, is playing around.  I would never use this in a paid gig environment.

What is nice is that if I want to use this wireless setup for my video camera, I am but another free 6.3mm male mono adapter to 6.3mm male stereo adapter away from making it work there too and I have those plugs as well!

Once it arrives (1-2 months on the “slow boat from China”), I’ll post the results here.  🙂

Addendum:  February 14, 2017

I cannot believe that it took SO LONG to arrive… we are talking over 3 months!!  I have never had anything take this long, and it was so long that for a time I forgot about it and then ordered another one (that is likely going to arrive in 3 months too), however, it arrived today. Unfortunately, I am too tired (after putting a full day at work), to test it out.  I did take a couple of cell phone pictures, though. 

Here they are:

they are making

I’ll play with the setup and see how badly and unusable it is, but if it works, there are several uses for this setup:
1 – A wireless solution to my voice to video camera for any videos I wish to make
2 – A wireless solution for my voice for when I want to do any speaking as I perform
3 – A wireless solution for my accordions (digital and acoustic) to amp or mixer.

It would be an interesting toy if it worked well, but for the price that I paid, I certainly am not expecting very much.  🙂

More to come later as I test it out both as a tool to record voice and accordion and see what the results are, but first I know that I am going to need to make at least 2 DIY adapters (one from the receiver to stereo video camera and one from receiver to accordion mono jack)!

Addendum:  March 11, 2017

I finally found a few seconds and just tested out the lavaliere part on my Roland amp, and know what?  Apart from some small amount of noise and hiss it worked quite well!  I had the main amp on the floor and I went upstairs and downstairs and it never lost signal… so for me that means that for now this is going to be the main way that I record the vocals for my educational vids for now.  My next project is to make the 2 adapters, one that permits me to connect it to my video camera and the second adapter is to permit it to connect to my accordion and then see how that works there.

The thing that I might change is the mic.  The one that came with it is not quite sensitive enough and the quality is ok, but I think a better more sensitive mic might work better for me and give me a better sound.  Now, of course I could just work on the sound in post production, but if the sound is better from the start, this is one step less for me to do afterwards.  Time will tell once I start testing.

Addendum:  April 2018

Time passes and I continue to learn.  I now have a way more effective way of recording vocals on my educational videos, and that article is available on this site.

When it comes time to discuss my new way to wirelessly record audio, I also have a few updates that happen later on there too!